Giving Compass’ Take:
• Melissa Hall Sommer, Senior Director of family economic success at Brighton Center, explains how her social service organization needed to do more work to dismantle systems that cause racial, ethnic and gender disparities in employment and housing access.
• How can philanthropists encourage more service organizations to utilize racial equity lens in their work?
As I listened, I had one of those, “Wait … what?” moments. I pulled out the work plan that Brighton Center had so thoughtfully crafted to guide our STEPS project, flipped to the racial equity section—a portion of the plan the foundation asked us to complete as part of our grant planning—and began skimming the words. The plan I had previously considered strong suddenly seemed inadequate. I realized I been confusing the concepts of equity, and equality, diversity, and inclusion. And I did not make the connection that racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in Brighton Center’s community were in fact an “equity” issue.
Following this experience, I felt empowered to dig deeper into the underlying causes of disparities the people we aim to help have experienced. Through data we collect about our programs, I wanted to learn more about racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in employment, in housing access, and in the number of people who access our services. Through analyzing these data, our understanding of disparities, and how to identify them, has become much sharper. I was truly looking at our work plan through a new lens, and I was energized!
Given our mission to create opportunities for individuals and families to reach self-sufficiency through family support services, education, employment, and leadership, we realized that we must use a racial equity lens that identifies and calls out disparities, and addresses them both within our organization and among the multiple systems, our families interact with daily.
Read the full article about program diversity and equity by Melissa Hall Sommer at Stanford Social Innovation Review
Since you are interested in North America, have you read these selections from Giving Compass related to impact giving and North America?
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